There’s too much noise inside my head.
Constant. Cluttered. Cacophonous.
Two years ago was the first time someone I knew professionally (who was also a therapist) told me that I was probably undergoing depression, I don’t want to use the term diagnosed because it makes me feel like death for me is just around the corner. I did all the right things, I religiously went for therapy, I followed what the therapist said, I tried sports, I tried travel — some of it worked, a lot of it did not.
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Do I know exactly why I have (had) depression and how it all started? No. There are a million reasons I could tell you about and then I think of the immensity of the world and its problems and I feel like those reasons aren’t good enough for this persisting sense of despair. I’m also been pretty much high functioning, meaning that my depression mostly doesn’t conform to expected performative norms. This also means that it isn’t visible. I can work and be social and as active as required socially but there is an all pervading feeling of something, or rather a feeling of nothingness that does not go away. I have constantly used work or social engagements to make it go away or for it to quiet down for sometime, for any time.
The past year or so has had multiple incidents that have escalated this, these incidents have often involved people very close to me and while getting away and getting distance may have been the solution – but the guilt of even wanting to do that or just thinking such thoughts would lead to aggravated emotions. The added stress to do well with work, with life in general, can be crippling. The idea of having a family dependant on the fact that you will do well, the personal expectations from yourself, the societal demands to do something worthwhile – it added so much noise when all my mind needed was silence. The need to distance from what I was feeling and this added stress made me channel everything I had into work and into being there for other people at home, and not for myself.
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It reached a point where I would be up at 3 am feeling this immense sudden wave of intense sadness or be breaking down completely and I would not stop whatever I was working on while I felt this way. I couldn’t and I wouldn’t give myself the time away from work to actually feel what I was feeling, I was terrified of what happened if I did that, of what happened if I let myself actually understand the depth of what I was feeling and most importantly of what happened if I couldn’t get back from it.
There have been moments in public that I have to remind myself to smile – not because I’m not listening anymore, but just because I cannot, I felt absolutely nothing. I started having days of being unable to get out of bed or even function normally (if we know what that is!). Days when I couldn’t sleep and days when I just couldn’t wake up. I missed my end semester exams because I just couldn’t silence the noise enough to focus.
I know I needed more help but therapy wasn’t working as well for me. This is when I decided to just start talking about this more. I spoke to close friends about what was happening. This was the first time I was sharing the inside of my mind with people not paid to treat me or listen to me. And this has been the only thing that has worked for me. Has it made things completely okay? Far from it. But having people willing to just be there with me at 4 in the morning without question helps. It helps to know that the people around me may not necessarily understand this but that they will stick through this with me. I know that being able to write this is testament to my getting better. I still use work to focus away from what I’m feeling, but I’m more conscious of it. I’ve taken more positive efforts to distance from toxic situations and environments. I’m able to do nothing and find some measure of peace. I’m able to be alone with my thoughts. I’m able to recognise how I feel and allow myself to feel it.
I don’t have a particular reason for writing this, increasingly writing has just been a form of catharsis. I’ve been an advocate for the importance of personal stories helping dismantle the stigma around mental health (your story is your own, you do not have to share it if you don’t want to, ever.)
I’m just hoping there is someone who reads this and finds some solace and knows that it is okay to feel what they are feeling and that help is necessary in many situations, and that it can come in various forms for you.
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